Start with breaking the room up into equal sized groups.
1. Challenge the groups to find two things they all have in common with one another.

2. Let the room know that the two things their group has in common is now their team name (i.e. Zombie Cats – one group found out that everyone liked zombie movies and cats).

3. Give the groups five minutes to figure out how they will act out their team name. When time is up, have each group act out their team name to the entire room and have others guess the team’s name.

Purpose: Introductions, getting people to open up to each other, finding common ground

Brainstorming Techniques


Throughout ideation sessions, a valuable exercise is to express ideas and potential solutions in the form of diagrams and rough sketches instead of merely in words. Visuals have a way of provoking further ideas and providing a wider lens of thinking. The idea with sketching out ideas is not to develop beautiful drawings worthy of framing and mounting on the wall. The sketches should be as simple and rough as possible with just enough detail to convey meaning. This also helps preventing people from becoming attached to their little works of art.

You can rely on sketching, a proven design tool, to help you explore your design space more fully, and avoid the pitfalls of focussing on suboptimal design choices ahead of time. More particularly, sketches can assist you in the design process by helping you to think more openly and creatively about your ideas. They can help you create abundant ideas without worrying about their quality. Sketches will help you invent and explore concepts by being able to record ideas quickly. Sketches will make it easier for you to discuss, critique, and share your ideas with others. That’s why sketches are a great tool to help you and your team to choose which ideas are worth pursuing.


Bodystorming is a technique in which participants physically act out situations they are trying to innovate within. It may involve expressing solutions to ideas through physical activity, or enacting some of the problem scenarios that we are attempting to solve. Physically acting out processes, scenarios and events helps get the ideation team physically involved instead of theorizing about the problems. It combines aspects of empathy, brainstorming, and prototyping into one exercise with increased energy and movement, which helps stimulate higher energy and more meaningful experiences.

Defining Problem Space

After creating your empathy maps it should become clear that there are some existing problems and positive experiences to strive for. We’ll decide on a focused problem space in two steps:

1. Reframe Problems As Opportunities
With markers and sticky notes, turn the problems into opportunities. Begin each opportunity with “How Might We…” (read about HMW here) and then add them to your wall.

2. Vote on Ideas

Now it’s time to decide which HMWs are the most important for the group.

Everybody has two votes. Members can vote on their own HMWs, and/or they can add two votes to the same HMW. Focus on issues where, if the issue were fixed, it would contribute to the long-term objective. Discuss the clear winners.

Day 2 Goal

After a full day of understanding the problem and choosing a target for your sprint, today you get to focus on solutions. The day starts with inspiration: a review of existing ideas to remix and improve. Then, in the afternoon, each person will sketch, following a four-step process that emphasizes critical thinking over artistry.

Today will begin with divergent thinking (generative) and end with convergent thinking (critical). By the end of the day, you and your team will have a stack of solutions. That’s great, but it’s also a problem. You can’t prototype and test them all—you need one solid plan. By tomorrow morning, you will critique each solution, and decide which ones have the best chance of achieving your long-term goal.

Declaring Assumptions

The main ways to identify assumptions are as follows:

  1. Have a conversation and list out everyone’s assumptions.
  2. Determine how you can turn those assumptions into questions.
  3. Have the team map their questions to research approaches that would enable the team to discover answers and validate or challenge specific assumptions.
  4. Through greater user understanding, determine whether these assumptions lead to other assumptions that may provide additional questions that would lead to further discovery over time.

Allowing teams to challenge their assumptions in an open, respectful, and caring way helps them to open up to user learnings, leave their own egos behind, and gather evidence that leads to smarter product and service design decisions over time.

Let’s use an example to illustrate:

What do we know about elderly people taking medication?
Do you know someone or heard stories about medication for elderly?
What can we assume are the problems, difficulties or challenges with medication for these people?
Have you heard of any positive experiences in regard to taking medication?
What do you think would make this experience more rewarding?


User Interview

Example Questions for the Elderly – Medication Compliance issue

How do you think about your medication?
What have others told you about your medication?
Do you know others that take the same medication?
Describe how you take your medication and where?
How do you feel when taking your meds, in private or public?
Is there any parts of taking medication that’s frustrating or painful?
Tell me about an aspect of taking medication that you find positive.
What does a typical day look like in their world?
What makes you happy these days?

Empathy Map

Any good product, service or design is only good if it matches what a customer desires in the product.

This overwhelming collection of information can be easily organized with Empathy Maps. Going further than just creating a persona for your ideal customer, will help:

  1. to get a complete analysis of your targeted audience in a broader scale
  2. to align your strategy with your ideal customer
  3. to get a better understanding of which channels to focus on for best results
  4. having a visual representation will help you and your team understand what really matters

Before you can make a proper empathy map you’ll need to conduct some user interviews.

Here’s an example we can go through:


Now it’s your turn:

Talk to People

Interview experts (reporter-style) in your team and outside. Ask what they know about your target users, ask about any efforts to achieve the long-term objective (or similar objectives) previously, and anything else that might be relevant, or could be useful to know before diving deeper into the design sprint. Make each “interview” 15-30 minutes, to ensure that a variety of insights are collected within the next two hours.
Desired outcome: insight into problems that real people are experiencing.

Here are 6 habits of good conversationalists:
1. They listen more than they talk
The irony of being a good conversationalist is that talking isn’t the most important piece; listening is what makes you memorable.
2. They don’t always interject their experiences
Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.
3. They admit what they don’t know
I want to make sure I really understand what you mean. Can you say what you just said in a slightly different way?
4. They are well read
Good conversationalists ‘seed a conversation with jolts’
Bringing in ideas from other domains keeps people awake and interested, and it’s actually how paradigm shifts are born.
5. They look for cues
Good conversationalists listen with their eyes, looking for body language or changes in mood that provide information about the other person’s interest level.
6. They let go of the details
We’ve all been in a conversation where the speaker derails the topic by struggling to remember a date or name. Small bits of information add verbal clutter.

Read about them here:

Bonus Tips:
a. Have a comfortable opener
b. Use the person’s name
c. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Read about these tips here: